Abstinence Pledges = More Unsafe Sex

Shockingly, the “Keep your legs crossed, sluts!” sex ed strategy is an epic fail.

Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.

The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a “virginity pledge,” but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.

I suppose abstinence-only education has one thing going for it: It threatens that sex will bring disease and unwanted pregnancy, and for abstinence-pledgers, that threat is more likely to be realized.

The U.S. government has spent more than $1.5 billion on abstinence programs. A lot of that money goes to local anti-choice and religious groups, which provide curriculum telling students that sex tears the petals off of their beautiful roses and that AIDS is spread by sweat and tears. Let’s hope Obama cuts off that gravy train quick.

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12 comments for “Abstinence Pledges = More Unsafe Sex

  1. December 29, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Let’s hope Obama cuts off that gravy train quick.

    Ah . . . wouldn’t it be nice?

  2. arcadesproject
    December 29, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Abstinence pledges fail? I don’t know when I’ve been so shocked. Isn’t the whole right wing sex & reproduction dance all about who controls the body? And about using pregnancy and childbirth & disease, to control and punish female sexual activity?

  3. December 29, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Open honest sex education works. It has been shown to work through out Europe and when it was taught here in certain parts of the US it worked to reduce unplanned pregnancies.

    Abstinence Programs are just religion being foisted upon the public in lieu of programs that actually work.

  4. December 29, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    I found myself rather insulted by the petals of a rose add.

  5. December 29, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    What abstinence-only education is designed to protect is not our children’s health, it’s their ‘innocence.’ This was driven home to me by the whole blah blah around Sarah Palin’s pregnant daughter — the abstinence-only supporters see no loss in her ending up pregnant. To them, the only loss would be if she ‘trivialized’ her ‘special beautiful rose-ness’ by actually taking command of her sexuality, and learning how to explore her body and her wishes while staying safe.

    I honestly think they’d rather have unwanted pregnancies all over the place (and, of course, sluts punished by getting STDs) than healthy, assertive, sex-positive, intelligent women. Because for some reason, the latter threatens their world, where the former does not.

  6. marilove
    December 30, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Color me surprised! (Sarcasm.)

  7. December 30, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Similar discussion over at Feministing prompted me to post a long-due apology to my high school health teacher, who I gave a very hard time over what, in retrospect, was a very good program.

  8. MikeF
    December 31, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Abstinence-only sex ed is definitely a failure, but I don’t think that was the focus of the study in question. There was no attempt to separate kids who took abstinence pledges as part of an abstinence-only program, versus kids who took abstinence pledges but also had regular sex-ed in school.

  9. Lisa G.
    December 31, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    My parents opted me out of all but one year of sex ed. That was 7th grade, which was largely just about one’s period and other physical changes the body undergoes during puberty. Except for the first ‘homework assignment’, which was an abstinence pledge.
    Even though I was pretty terrified of the idea of sex in general at the time (it’s amazing how conservative otherwise liberal parents can get when it comes to teaching their daughter about sex) I still resented the school insisting that I had an obligation to sign this thing for them.
    My middle school did not own my body or my decisions, was my thought, and had no right to demand this of me. The teacher was ‘very concerned’ about my feelings on this matter, and even called my parents and got them involved. I remember long, tense conversations regarding why I wouldn’t sign. They seemed to feel that because I was refusing it, I must be acknowledging a desire to go out and have wild, crazy sex at age 12. In the end, I was told that it was a ‘late assignment’, but that I should turn it in later when I felt more comfortable about it.
    I never turned it in, and it impacted my letter grade.
    How’s that for fair and informed sex education? Coercing preteens.

  10. Amanda
    January 12, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    I’m from Switzerland and recently I saw a documentary about those virginity pledges and the abstinence programs in the school ! I was terribly shocked !
    How it is possible that schools and states let the religion being involved in what should be a health program. In Switzerland, the school bring you at least one time in a “planning familial” (a place where you can have informations on sexuality, contraception, pregnancy, have a rendez-vous with a gynecologist) and they don’t care about religion ! If you want to be abstinent, be abstinent. If you want to have a sexuality, have it, but use condoms !

  11. Chris
    January 12, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Lisa G., that is crazy! We had abstinence pledges at my school (which I must shamefully admit I signed, though, shocker, it didn’t stop me from having premarital sex), but they were voluntary. Yeah, there was the not-so-subtle implication that if you didn’t sign it you were a big dirty whore, but I can’t wrap my head around the idea of an abstinence pledge being a mandatory homework assignment. You could have sued.

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